Effective Change Management in Schools

In our latest free CPD session we explored ‘Effective Change Management in Schools’ with Kat Howard. Kat is an author, speaker, advisor to the Teacher Development Trust, and Director for a large Multi-Academy Trust Teaching School Hub.

How to best manage the move from a legacy assessment tracking system to Learning Ladders’ suite of curriculum design, assessment tracking, reporting and parental engagement tools is something that we get asked often, and so it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to share advice from Kat.

Change management in schools can be daunting, but running with a bad idea/system just stores up problems for the future, so avoiding ‘sunk cost bias’ is imperative.

The video from the session is below (it’s about 55 minutes long) – we hope you find it useful.

We also made some notes of some of the key points which you may find helpful:

  • Conversations to educate staff about what the process will look like, share the vision & trajectory.
  • Meet people where they are, don’t alienate or exclude staff with complex jargon
  • Acknowledge the challenge of change & present them with support mechanisms, pinpointed on a timeline. (e.g. judgements not accurate 1st term) so that this is not weaponised as a failure of implementation, it’s part of the process.
  • Working party and be clear when to review it, communicate the point of return to look and review the system
  • Talk about the process as phases e.g. this is phase 1, look at what we’ve learned, what shall we take through to refine in phase 2. Frame as an ongoing improvement and learning journey.
  • How will you start the conversation? Communicate with sensitivity, not a blanket communication.
  • Better face to face than email so you can read reactions, be available for reaction.
  • Talk to the people who are most resistant to change, also send middle leaders to talk to teachers who might otherwise say ‘it’s fine’ to senior leadership team for honest feedback for a birds eye view of how it’s landed.
  • Schools are time poor, fast pace of change and the unfamiliar can be ‘yet another thing’.
  • Whatever the senior leadership time gives time to you give value to. Communicate to staff that this is what you want them to dedicate time to. Staffing calendar, content of meetings CPD
  • Think about the least experienced member of staff with no or limited knowledge. Likely to be overwhelming and daunting, identify support for them.
  • Share with the teachers how you want them to use the system, don’t make assumptions
  • Year on year what we might learn from the process, a continual process and returning to change.
  • Don’t want the initial point of review or working party as an echo chamber of how fantastic it is, we want an honest picture. Ask middle leaders what they think.
  • Evaluation framework, what is it that you want to evaluate? Not a series of descriptors to what has been met but triangulate. Not just a narrow process or a select few individuals, but wider. EEF (Education Endowment Foundation– useful research)
  • 6 months ahead of the implementation, suggest a possible solution to the problem. Create a culture of staff valued and listened to. Bring middle leaders into this, ‘these are your concerns around the existing system, we’re looking at a different system’. This is powerful change, driven by contextual needs and voices of middle leaders to create a cohesive conversation
  • Be prepared for change in advance, don’t just land it on someone and expect it to land well. Whatever you give time to, give value to that. How can you practically expect staff to give time to give value to what you want them to give value to.

You can find Kat’s blog here.

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